Sunday, 11 September 2011

Rin Tin Tin

Finished September 10
Rin Tin Tin: the life and the legend by Susan Orlean

This book is the culmination of years of research by Orleans, and it shows.
The book describes the life of Lee Duncan, the original owner and trainer of the dog Rin Tin Tin. We see the life of the real dog Duncan brought back from France after World War I, and the on-screen persona in both film and television. Orleans gives a picture of the movie and television business over the years, and shows the various players involved from producers, screenwriters, and directors to co-stars.
She shows how the fame of Rin Tin Tin spread internationally, and how it grew to change the landscape of dogs as they moved to become pets more than working animals.
We see how the persona of Rin Tin Tin was embraced by generations and in different countries. We also are shown how the this love grew the popularity of German shepherds and a dynasty of Rin Tin Tin descendants.
Duncan was initially driven by pride in his dog and wanting others to recognize the uniqueness of Rin Tin Tin, but that grew to include encouraging others to train their own dogs. Duncan always connected with the love between children and their dogs, and this influenced his choices in film and television projects.
Orleans has taken an immense amount of research, both personal interviews and boxes and boxes of papers. She looked at artifacts from the commercialization of Rin Tin Tin, and most interestingly her own motivation to tell this story. From a child's love of a figurine, to this wonderful and extensively researched book, she acknowledges her own role in the Rin Tin Tin story.
From the personal to the legend, Orleans covers all aspects of this story over the course of almost a century. This is a book for dog lovers, those interested in social change, and those who just love a good story.

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